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3M I, the local arm of diversified home, healthcare and auto products maker, will change a vector logo on its popular Scotch-Brite range of kitchen and home cleaning products after a user of the brand pointed to a visible gender disparity on its logo -- an image of a woman with a bindi.

Over a LinkedIn response, 3M's consumer marketing head addressed the query, suggesting a logo change of the brand—launched in India in the 90s—could be on the anvil within the next few months as the company steps away from "regressive beliefs".

“At the very outset I wish to thank you for your insightful comment on the Scotch-Brite packaging. I head marketing in 3M India for our Consumer business. You have correctly surmised that this is a legacy vector, and that it is undoubtedly time to move on from regressive beliefs," Atul Mathur, head, marketing, consumer business at 3M India said on 15 July.

"Recognizing this, we started down the road to drive behavioural change externally," Mathur said acknowledging the company's role in promoting the role of women linked to household chores in India.

"At the same time we also began to work internally on changing the brand vector. I am pleased to inform you that you will see the logo change a few months down the line," he said, responding to a post by communication and advertising executive, Karthik Srinivasan, in his blog on 15 July.

In a post titled 'Time to scrub Scotch-Brite’s logo, 3M India', Srinivasan, a user of the brand himself, wrote that he hand’t noticed this tiny addition, the bindi, to their logo unit for select products until it was pointed out to him. "The largely familiar logo had the vector image of a woman with a bindi alongside..."

Srinivasan said the gender marker on the brand's cleaning products was awkward and out-of-place.

“It does look like this addition is indicative of 3M’s assumptions of who is likely to, or supposed to use the product. Is that ‘a woman’, or the kaam waali bai?"

Srinivasan compared images of several Scotch-Brite products across global markets where 3M is present.

“Many products don’t have this addition, and some of them have non-logo gender cues, like the industrial ‘professional’ scrubber showing a male chef, or the cartoon girl child (looking like the Amul mascot) depicted in the stainless steel ball. But none of them have an integrated logo-level addition," he said.

Srinivasan noted that the woman’s face with a bindi was largely on home cleaning products but missing from the brand’s lint roller. “The gender marker is clear when you see that the lint roller, which has a man’s coat in the product pack, doesn’t have it!"

3M sells the popular Scotch-Brite range of cleaning products here—these include a scrub sponge, a scrub pad, lint rollers, brooms, a jumper spin mop, toilet and kitchen brushes among other household cleaning products.

It also sells office stationery products in India.

For years, packaged goods companies selling dish washing bars, detergents and cooking products have portrayed women in limited “domesticated" roles tasked with a bulk of household chores.

The logo is especially worrisome in a country like India where millions of women are engaged in unpaid household labour.

Now, as conversations around sharing household chores become more visible due to the covid-19 induced lockdowns, it has brought to the forefront the disproportionate amount of work women are tasked with it.

Responding to Mint's query a spokesperson at 3M India clarified that Scotch Brite’s new logo that will be released in the next few months, will not display the image of a woman.

"...we recognize that household chores are equally shared by all family members, and we understand the need to make the product packaging gender neutral."

The company spokesperson added that 3M is committed to promoting brands that display diversity.

"3M is committed to having a portfolio of brands that celebrates diversity. We recognise that the current packaging of Scotch-Brite carries a legacy vector that do not reflect the sentiments and mindset of today’s consumers. 3M India would like to apologise to anyone whose sentiments were hurt due to the controversy on comments by our Scotch Brite manager being taken out of context."

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